Uscola, Meinert, Leacox, May all advance to state wrestling meet

With a combined record of 122-26 going into Friday's Section 8AA wrestling tournament at Fosston, Park Rapids' Colter Uscola, Joey Meinert, Joe Leacox and Brandon May were among the favorites to qualify for the state Class AA tournament.

With a combined record of 122-26 going into Friday's Section 8AA wrestling tournament at Fosston, Park Rapids' Colter Uscola, Joey Meinert, Joe Leacox and Brandon May were among the favorites to qualify for the state Class AA tournament.

Leacox and May lived up to their No. 1 seeds by winning section titles. Meinert was also seeded No. 1, but settled for a runner-up finish and a state berth. Uscola, who was seeded No. 3, pulled off an upset in a true-second match to also advance to state.

Now those four Park Rapids wrestlers will attempt to bring home medals when the state Class AA tournament begins Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Leacox close to milestone

Joe Leacox had extra incentive to qualify for the state tournament.


With 95 victories, the Park Rapids senior needed to reach state in order to have a chance to win 100 career matches.

Winning all three of his section matches and qualifying for state has Leacox within reach of that prestigious milestone.

"It was really important to me (to qualify for state)," said Leacox, who now has a career record of 98-54. "That was a big goal that I wanted to accomplish this year."

Leacox advanced to the championship match at 130 pounds by pinning Zach Flackus of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis in 48 seconds in the quarterfinals and posting a 7-3 minor decision over Crookston's Cole Perry in the semifinals.

In the title match, Leacox jumped out to an 11-3 lead before pinning Kevin Fynboh of Thief River Falls in 5:10. That gave Leacox a section title and his first state berth.

"I thought my chances were really good," said Leacox. "I figured I had it in the bag."

Leacox will carry a 33-6 season record into his first state match against Alex Becker of St. Michael-Albertville. Becker is 33-10 and rated No. 7 in the state. No. 2-rated Chris Kragt of Milaca and No. 1-ranked Tyler Doll of Perham are also in Leacox's bracket.

"I should be able to pull off my first match," said Leacox. "I want to win two matches and reach 100 wins."


May captures section title

After placing fifth at 171 pounds at last year's section meet, Brandon May was looking to cap off his senior season with his first trip to state.

May entered the section meet as the No. 1 seed at 189 pounds. That's exactly where May finished.

The Park Rapids senior opened by pinning Dustin Arneberg of Fosston/Bagley in 26 seconds in the quarterfinals and advanced to the finals by pinning Dan Smith of Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena in 4:41 in the semifinals. That was May's third win over Smith this season.

In the finals, May used a first-period takedown, a reversal and nearfall in the second period, and a takedown in the third period for a 9-1 major decision over Chris Bonderson of Nashwauk-Keewatin.

"This was one of my main goals," said May. "At the beginning of the year I thought it would be a lot tougher. I'm happy to make it this far."

May will carry a 33-8 season record and 67-49 career record into his first-round match against Nolan Moriarty of LeSueur-Henderson. Moriarty has a 26-5 record. No. 1 Brent Eidenschink of Detroit Lakes and No. 2 Lance Petera of Grand Meadow are also in May's half of the bracket.

"I'd like to win a few matches," said May. "We'll see how it goes. It should be a lot of fun."


Meinert returns to state

Winning the section title at 119 pounds last season put some pressure on Meinert to repeat as a section champion this season.

Suffering a broken wrist on his right hand during practice prior to the section meeet made Meinert's quest for a return trip to state in doubt.

However, Meinert managed to overcome that injury to secure another state berth with a runner-up showing at 125 pounds.

"It was pretty important (to return to state)," said Meinert, who earlier this season recorded his 100th career win. "I really wanted to get down there again, especially when the rest of the guys made it."

Meinert opened the section meet by pinning Derek Schrombeck of Hibbing in 1:21 in the quarterfinals and by pinning Mariano Portillo of Crookston in 1:15 in the semifinals.

In the title match, Meinert met No. 2-seeded Issiah Hruby of Roseau. Hruby, who is ranked No. 6 in the state, used a nearfall in the second period for a 3-0 decision for the title. However, Meinert's runner-up showing was good enough for a state berth.

Meinert has a tough draw at state with two-time state champion Mike Thorn of St. Michael-Albertville being his first-round match. However, the Park Rapids junior is looking to do well after gaining some valuable experience at state last year.


"I'm ready to go down there and do some damage," said Meinert, who has a 34-7 season record and 108-76 career mark. "Last year I was kind of nervous. This year I won't be as nervous. I'll be more ready. I'm planning to place."

Uscola pulls off upset

Colter Uscola was looking to improve on last year's fourth-place finish at 112 pounds to earn a state berth at 119.

Uscola, who entered as the No. 3 seed, opened by pinning Brian Anderson of Thief River Falls in 3:10 in the quarterfinals before dropping an 8-7 decision to Roseau's Mark Erickson in the semifinals.

After that loss, Uscola thought his quest for a state berth was over.

"I thought I had a really good chance to make it," said Uscola. "I thought I had to beat Erickson to make it. I was pretty down after that match. I was hoping for a miracle."

Uscola received that miracle when Erickson defeated Crookston's Wes Hanson 11-4 in the title match. Hanson entered the section meet as the No. 1 seed and ranked No. 8 in the state.

When Uscola defeated Gary Perrington of Deer River 8-2 and Cory Boushee of East Grand Forks 18-4 in the wrestlebacks, the Park Rapids sophomore received a true-second match against Hanson for the other state berth.


Uscola took advantage of his second chance as an early takedown and nearfall sparked a 6-5 win and his first state berth.

"I was excited to go out there," said Uscola, who lost three matches to Hanson during the regular season. "When I threw him on his back in the first period, I knew I could beat him."

That win has Uscola heading to state with a 34-7 record and 71-46 career mark. Uscola faces Tracy-Milroy's Luke Prairie in the first round. No. 3-rated Travis Lewellyn of Sartell and No. 5 Jon Tatro of Minnewaska are also in Uscola's bracket.

"I'm going to wrestle to the best of my ability," said Uscola. "I'm hoping to place in the top six."

Branstrom just misses bid

In addition to sending four wrestlers to state, the Panthers had four other wrestlers place at the section meet.

Lee Branstrom just missed a state berth by placing third at 215 pounds. Branstrom dropped a 9-6 decision to eventual runner-up Jerry Wright of Nashwauk-Keewatin in the semifinals before rebounding with a 7-3 decision over Aaron Cymbaluk of Fosston and a 10-4 decision over Max Krueger of Roseau for third place.

Casey Fouts ended up placing sixth at 103 pounds, Tony Sperle finished sixth at 112 pounds and Chris Sandretzky took sixth at 140 pounds.


Rounding out Park Rapids' section competitors were Matt Weaver at 135, Brandon Steffen at 145, Tom Drury at 152, Andy Boos at 160, Paul Massie at 171 and Tony Gartner at heavyweight.

Championship matches

103: Steve Keogh, Thief River Falls, minor decision over Nate Higgins, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis, 6-4. True second: Higgins technical fall over Mike Belich, Hibbing, 5:59.

112: Jorden Engen, Thief River Falls, won by injury default over Aaron Mireault, Fosston/Bagley. True second: Javier Portillo, Crookston, won by injury default over Mireault.

119: Mark Erickson, Roseau, minor decision over Wes Hanson, Crookston, 11-5. True second: Colter Uscola, Park Rapids, minor decision over Hanson 6-5.

125: Issiah Hruby, Roseau, minor decision over Joey Meinert, Park Rapids, 3-0.

130: Joe Leacox, Park Rapids, pinned Kevin Fynboh, Thief River Falls, 5:10. True second: Fynboh minor decision over Cole Perry, Crookston, 4-3.

135: Scott Lawless, Virginia, major decision over Caleb Lanoue, Mahnomen/Waubun, 11-2.

140: Alex Burkel, Roseau, pinned Casey Stellmach, Virginia, 4:36.

145: Evan Huotari, Deer River, minor decision over Will Johnson, Hibbing, 5-2.

152: Dustin Horner, Deer River, minor decision over Dan LeDuc, Thief River Falls, 6-3.

160: Derrick Pleshe, Nashwauk-Keewatin, minor decision over Matt Essig, Fosston/Bagley, 2-0. True second: Essig minor decision over Chris Mattson, Hibbing.

171: Mark Przekwas, Roseau, minor decision over Dale Gullickson, Deer River, 3-1. True second: Gullickson pinned Aaron Grozdanich, Hibbing, :28.

189: Brandon May, Park Rapids, major decision over Chris Bonderson, Nashwauk-Keewatin, 9-1. True second: Bonderson pinned Matt Anderson, Hibbing, 2:30.

215: Jon Brunner, Mahnomen/Waubun, minor decision over Jerry Wright, Nashwauk-Keewatin, 6-5.

275: Andrew Peralta, Thief River Falls, minor decision over Evan Osterhoudt, Hibbing, 3-2. True second: Osterhoudt minor decision over Aaron Jacobson, Roseau, 5-0.

Park Rapids results

Casey Fouts (103): pinned Bailey Felix, Virginia, 3:37; lost minor decision to Nate Higgins, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis, 4-0; pinned Casey Gajeski, East Grand Forks, 2:32; pinned Scott Mickle, Deer River, 3:17; lost major decision to Mike Belich, Hibbing, 14-5; lost minor decision to Anthony Caputo, Crookston, 7-4 (sixth).

Tony Sperle (112): bye; won major decision over Justin Green, Mahnomen/Waubun, 13-4; lost minor decision to Aaron Mireault, Fosston/Bagley, 6-2; lost by default to Jake Bednar, Hibbing; lost by default to Green (sixth).

Colter Uscola (119): bye; pinned Brian Anderson, Thief River Falls, 3:10; lost minor decision to Mark Erickson, Roseau, 8-7; won minor decision over Gary Perrington, Deer River, 8-2; won major decision over Cory Boushee, East Grand Forks, 18-4; won minor decision over Wes Hanson, Crookston, 6-5 (true second).

Joey Meinert (125): bye; pinned Derek Schrombeck, Hibbing, 1:21; pinned Mariano Portillo, Crookston, 1:15; lost minor decision to Issiah Hruby, Roseau, 3-0 (second).

Joe Leacox (130): bye; pinned Zach Flackus, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis, :48; won minor decision over Cole Perry, Crookston, 7-3; pinned Kevin Fynboh, Thief River Falls, 5:10 (first).

Matt Weaver (135): pinned by Justin Radtke, Fosston/Bagley, 1:40; lost minor decision to Jason Timmerman, Hibbing, 8-5.

Chris Sandretzky (140): won minor decision over Ben Nelson, Thief River Falls, 12-9; pinned by Alex Burkel, Roseau, 3:27; pinned Nick Drelleck, Fosston/Bagley, 4:13; won by default over Isaac Lanoue, Mahnomen/Waubun; pinned by Zac Evans, Deer River, 4:22; lost major decision to Nelson 14-4 (sixth).

Brandon Steffen (145): won minor decision over Bailey Bellfy, Fosston/Bagley, 7-5; lost minor decision to Chris Default, Crookston, 3-1; pinned Gary Saewert, Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena, 3:24; pinned by Brady Crow, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, 2:42.

Tom Drury (152): pinned by Kyle Falkowski, Virginia, 5:04; pinned by Cory Goldsmith, Fosston/Bagley, :23.

Andy Boos (160): pinned by Brent Crow, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis, 1:25; pinned by Andrew Larson, East Grand Forks, 4:30.

Paul Massie (171): pinned by Eric Hagen, East Grand Forks, 1:09; pinned by Derrick Arneberg, Fosston/Bagley, :39.

Brandon May (189): bye; pinned Dustin Arneberg, Fosston/Bagley, :26; pinned Dan Smith, Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena, 4:41; won major decision over Chris Bonderson, Nashwauk-Keewatin, 9-1 (first).

Lee Branstrom (215): bye; pinned Steve Rogers, Deer River, :20; lost minor decision to Jerry Wright, Nashwauk-Keewatin, 9-6; won minor decision over Aaron Cymbaluk, Fosston/Bagley, 7-3; won minor decision over Max Krueger, Roseau, 10-4 (third).

Tony Gartner (275): pinned Chris Phillips, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis, :39; pinned by Andrew Peralta, Thief River Falls, 5:10; lost minor decision to John Mize, Deer River, 6-5.

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